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Print Buying Scam - Don't get tricked!

Posted Wednesday, November 19, 2014 by Jules VanSant.

alt textI received a call today from a member who said the phone calls and emails sounded fishy, but maybe they were Phishy! It’s time to remind all who run a company in print or other manufactured and shipped products to listen, read and do your research before trusting a NEW potential buyer. Most of course are legit, but with the age of the web and ability to check out vendors and customers, don’t let the excitement of a new sale blur your common sense…


Here’s the email chain that was received after an initial phone call:

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As Summarized by Digital Marketing1

Print Quotation Scam - How The Printing Scam Works

  1. You receive an e-mail job quotation request.

  2. You respond with a quotation or seek more information - contact is established - some artwork is supplied. (see sample to the left)

  3. Your quote will be accepted. Notice in our case below, no quote was provided, but the job was awarded anyway.

  4. Contact details including a US city, local address, phone numbers and credit card details for your use when the order is completed will be provided.

  5. Having established a, “relationship” with you, a request follows for you to transfer freight costs for job delivery in Africa via a currency transfer service and to include this cost with your invoice on completion. The request may be justified in many innovative ways designed to convince you that it is warranted. The freight costs, etc., will be quoted around $10,000.

  6. (If) you pay - the scam is complete.

Don’t Get How it Works?

alt textThe scammer is going to place an order, send you a check (or credit card) to pay for the product plus the shipping charges. If they use a credit card for payment, they will tell you to charge additional monies to cover the “shipping costs” for their shipper.

Basically, they are going to pay you in full, then have you pay their shipper for them.

If it is paid with a check, it will be from a legitimate company, account, etc., as this is often where stolen identity ends up. If they use a credit card, the card number will be valid. They often test stolen credit cards with very small charges to see if the account is active - frequently in the $.50 - $5.00 range believing the actually owner may not notice charges.

Once you receive the (fraudulent) payment from the scammer for the (fraudulent) order, plus shipping, you will then be requested to send money immediately via Western Union, (or other wire transfer) to “their” very trusted shipper for the “shipping charges”. Again, they are paying you in full, then you are supposed to take the shipping portion of the funds and wire it to their shipper for them - the shipper is actually them!

This will be explained, such that, they need to arrange to get the product picked up, but their shipper requires money up front because it’s international shipping. They will INSIST you use their shipping company. (Of course they would, they are the fake shipper)

Let’s give an example - The scammer pays you with a check (or credit card) for the invoice price of the product, plus shipping.

Lets say it’s a $25,000 print job. The shipping portion, they have now negotiated with their “Very Trusted” shipper, is $5,000.00. So the check they send you is for $30,000 (product + shipping) They will then say, please pay our shipper immediately the $5,000 from these funds to pay their “Very Trusted” shipper. This, of course, will need to be paid via Western Union immediately (before the check clears) to arrange the shipper on their end comes and picks up the product at your plant.

So, our innocent vendor here deposits the check, (or runs the credit card) then quickly sends $5,000 to the “Very Trusted” shipper via Western Union in hopes he will soon come and get the product off his dock.

Note: You will be very heavily pressured not to wait for funds to clear if a check is sent.Of course, if they paid by check, the check will most likely bounce. (or be contested when the checking accounts owner discovers the fraudulent charge) If they used a credit card, the charges will be disputed by the account owner upon discovery, and the charges will be charged back to you!

You will then get hit with the initial costs, plus bank fees, etc., meanwhile, the “real money” you sent via Western Union from your account to their “very trusted shipper” is now gone.

Note: You will never recover the Western Union money you sent, because sending it is the same as sending cash. Unfortunately, you are also out whatever you spent in producing the fraudulent order.

The scam is now complete. You have a pile of merchandise sitting on your dock that will never be picked up, and the scammer has pocketed whatever you sent via Western Union for shipping costs.(You can read the following Craigslist example, as a computer guy plays with a scammer, leading the scammer to become very insistent and even angry. Craigslist Computer Services Scam. It’s the same scam in a different form.)

I’ve Been Ripped Off…What Should I Do Now?

Who Do I Contact?

alt textIf you want to report an internet scam, or are a victim of an internet scam, we suggest you contact the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) to report the incident. “The IC3 was established as a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C) to serve as a means to receive Internet related criminal complaints, and to further research, develop, and refer the criminal complaints to federal, state, local, or international law enforcement and/or regulatory agencies for any investigation they deem to be appropriate.” - About IC3

That will give you a place to begin, as local police are not likely to be of much help with scams that originate overseas.

How to Report Internet Crime & Fraud

Unfortunately, it is very unlikely that you are ever going to see any monies recovered from this scam. If you were a victim, the printed materials are simply trash or recycling at this point. However, before you destroy the materials, you may want to check with an attorney or the proper authorities if you are pursuing any type of legal action, since this may be considered evidence.